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How The Proposed Education Bill May Affect Law Students In 2019

With Congress expected to update the Higher Education Act this year, law students and practitioners are predicting how the new bill may affect the way grad students pay for school in 2019.
Last month, GOP House members introduced the PROSPER Act. According to the Huffington Post, the act caps how much a student can borrow for graduate or professional school at $28,500 per year. The Senate is currently reviewing the bill and is expected to make changes.
Farran Powell, a reporter at U.S. News, recently discussed how the bill may affect law students and other grad students in 2019.
“The Senate version is much more likely to be collaborative,” Mark Kantrowitz, a college admissions and financial aid expert, tells U.S. News. “There may be some elements that one side doesn’t like, but they’ll be give and take. In the Senate version, you might not see a repeal of public service loan forgiveness.”
Pell Grants
The House’s version of PROSPER proposes to eliminate all postsecondary education grants except the Pell Grant, according to U.S. News. PROSPER would continue the Pell Grant program through 2024 with the current maximum award of $5,920. In addition, PROSPER would add a $300 bonus for students who enroll in at least 15 credits per semester.
Kantrowitz says the proposed idea would encourage students to take more credits and graduate earlier.
“It’s an idea that’s been around for a long time and seems to have support on both sides,” Kantrowitz tells U.S. News. “This gives a carrot more than a stick. It encourages you to pursue full-time enrollment and gives you extra money if you do so.”

Mark Kantrowitz


ONE Loan Program
Under PROSPER, the federal student loan program would be downsized. Loans such as the Stafford loan and PLUS loan would be eliminated and overhauled into a one-loan program, titled ONE, according to U.S. News.
“Downsizing the federal PLUS loan program is a major area of focus for House Republicans, who see them as a driving force behind rising tuition costs,” Stephen Dash, founder and CEO of Credible.com – a multilender marketplace focused on student loans – tells U.S. News.
Furthermore, PROSPER would make Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) unattainable for new borrowers. PSLF promises loan forgiveness to people who work at non-profits or government jobs once they’ve made 10 years’ worth of payments, according to CNN Money.
U.S. News reports that under the ONE loan program, a new lifetime loan limit for undergraduate college students would be increased to $39,000, while graduate students would be capped at $150,000 total. Essentially, the new program would allow undergraduates to borrow more and graduates to borrow less.
Colleen Campbell is the associate director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress. Campbell tells U.S. News that the problem lies in imbalanced increases and decreases.
“With increasing the undergraduate student loan limits – those additional loans could really be used for students living expenses,” she says. “The challenge that we end up seeing is we’re increasing loan limits so much and we’re increasing Pell just a little bit.”

Work-Study Program

Under the PROSPECT Act, current work-study programs may also be affected.
“The PROSPECT Act would eliminate graduate and professional students from being eligible for work-study, and the House’s provisions that would most likely have bipartisan support would change the program’s current structure for undergraduate institutions,” according to U.S. News.
For undergraduate institutions, PROSPER would examine which colleges actually have students with financial need.
In the meantime, law students will need to wait and see the changes that Senate makes to the bill.
Sources: U.S. News, Huffington Post, CNN Money